Cheryl Jacobs-Senior Vice President
Employee Engagement is a popular buzzword amongst savvy leaders today – and for good reason. A growing body of research suggests that high engagement levels are key drivers of financial results. A recent study by Towers Watson strengthens the link between engagement and financial performance by specifically highlighting “sustainable engagement” (meaning companies’ consistently high engagement levels are able to withstand varying economic conditions, changing leaders and transitions in business operations). The results are staggering.
Based on a three-year study of 41 global companies, Towers found that companies with high engagement levels saw gross profit increase 2 percent year-over-year while companies with low engagement levels saw profit decrease more than 13 percent. The discrepancy in itself does not come as a surprise. What Towers highlighted is another level of financial performance – companies with sustained high engagement levels (levels not dropping year to year) saw gross profit increase 5.2 percent over the same time period.
So what drives sustainable engagement levels?
- Engaged employees: Are employees willing to go the extra mile and to give that discretionary effort?
- Enabled employees: Are employees in an environment that supports employee development and performance? Does your organization prioritize employees’ working conditions? Do you understand the obstacles your employees face and are you actively supporting them in overcoming them?
- Energized employees: Employees have a sense of wellbeing (individual, physical, interpersonal, life) at work. Wellbeing is influenced by having clear priorities and goals, being part of effective teams, having respectable and trustworthy peers and co-workers, and having an organization that supports work-life balance.
There are many areas and potential action items under each of these topics. How do you know where to start?
Our Employee Engagement Survey was created by Dr. David Maister – a former Harvard Business School professor, recognized pioneer in the correlation of employee engagement and financial performance, and one of the original architects of employee engagement surveys more than 25 years ago.
The Employee Engagement Survey can both diagnose and prioritize actions and areas that will impact sustainable engagement within your organization. The survey uses nine key questions on organizational performance that, research shows, have the greatest effect on financial performance while measuring culture, leadership and engagement.
Regardless of where your organization is on the journey of driving engagement – whether you are at the cusp of understanding your organization’s conditions or are further along and now questioning how sustainable your engagement levels are – Maister’s model remains one of the best tools available.